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Revelation 1:4

Context

1:4 From John, 1  to the seven churches that are in the province of Asia: 2  Grace and peace to you 3  from “he who is,” 4  and who was, and who is still to come, 5  and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,

1 tn Grk “John.” The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.

2 tn Grk “Asia”; in the NT this always refers to the Roman province of Asia, made up of about one-third of the west and southwest end of modern Asia Minor. Asia lay to the west of the region of Phrygia and Galatia. The words “the province of” are supplied to indicate to the modern reader that this does not refer to the continent of Asia.

3 tn It is probable that the ὑμῖν (Jumin) applies to both elements of the greeting, i.e., to both grace and peace.

4 tc The earliest and best mss (Ì18vid א A C P 2050 al lat sy co) lack the term “God” (θεοῦ, qeou) between “from” (ἀπό, apo) and “he who is” (ὁ ὤν, Jo wn). Its inclusion, as supported by the bulk of the Byzantine witnesses, is clearly secondary and a scribal attempt to achieve two things: (1) to make explicit the referent in the passage, namely, God, and (2) to smooth out the grammar. The preposition “from” in Greek required a noun in the genitive case. But here in Rev 1:4 the words following the preposition “from” (ἀπό) are in another case, i.e., the nominative. There are two principal ways in which to deal with this grammatical anomaly. First, it could be a mistake arising from someone who just did not know Greek very well, or as a Jew, was heavily influenced by a Semitic form of Greek. Both of these unintentional errors are unlikely here. Commenting on this ExSyn 63 argues: “Either of these is doubtful here because (1) such a flagrant misunderstanding of the rudiments of Greek would almost surely mean that the author could not compose in Greek, yet the Apocalypse itself argues against this; (2) nowhere else does the Seer [i.e., John] use a nom. immediately after a preposition (in fact, he uses ἀπό 32 times with the gen. immediately following).” The passage appears to be an allusion to Exod 3:14 (in the LXX) where God refers to himself as “he who is” (ὁ ὤν), the same wording in Greek as here in Rev 1:4. Thus, it appears that John is wanting to leave the divine name untouched (perhaps to allude to God’s immutability, or as a pointer to the Old Testament as the key to unlocking the meaning of this book), irrespective of what it “looks” like grammatically. The translation has placed the “he who is” in quotation marks to indicate to the reader that the syntactical awkwardness is intentional. (For further comments, see ExSyn 63).

5 tn BDAG 106 s.v. ἀπό 5.d states: “The expr. εἰρήνη ἀπὸὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενοςRv 1:4 is quite extraordinary. It may be an interpretation of the name Yahweh already current, or an attempt to show reverence for the divine name by preserving it unchanged, or simply one more of the grammatical peculiarities so frequent in Rv.”



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